First off, I want to thank Rodrigo Antunes, um Brazileiro living in San Francisco, for this recipe.
He (and for that matter, all of my Brazilian friends) always gives a willing hand if I have a question or need some help with anything that has to do with Brazilian culture, history or cooking.
Last week, I decided it would be fun to devote the next few weeks to holiday cookies and figured that every country and culture has it's own specialty when it comes to Christmas or Hanukkah. The first person I hit up for a family favorite recipe was my friend Erick who lives in Brazil. He responded by telling me that they didn't have Christmas cookies there...
What? That couldn't be right. He must have misunderstood or was trying to be funny. But as it turns out, baking cookies for Christmas seems to have bypassed Brazilian culture in spite of the
influx of people from Germany and Italy, two countries where making cookies is almost a prerequisite for citizenship. Not to worry, though. The Brazilian has a sweet tooth and it's no wonder considering their history of sugar cane plantations and the number of sweet concoctions I see everyday just showing up on my Facebook and Twitter pages from the recipe sites of which I am a member. But getting back to sweets associated with Christmas...
A Christmas morning breakfast item, rabanada (pronounced ha-ba-na-da in Portuguese) came up more than once and I was curious as to what it could be. But before I had a chance to Google it, Rodrigo had already sent me a link to a recipe for it in English. Yes, I know this looks like the same old French Toast we are all used to but this goes beyond the quick milk and egg dunking and introduces some typical Brazilian ingredients like sweetened condensed milk, something found in many a Brazilian sobremesa. Also, instead of the quick dip, this calls for the bread to soak overnight much like a strata. But the similarity stops there; whereas a strata is baked these slices on saturated bread are deep fried. I must confess that I have not made these yet but am looking forward to it. If they are anything like the other Brazilian food I've made, I will not be disappointed.
1 medium sweet baguette or 1 medium sourdough baguette
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
6 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 -4 cups vegetable oil (for frying, estimated)
Cut bread into 1-inch thick slices on the bias. You should get about 16 pieces. If you have more, adjust other ingredients to compensate.
Whisk together the eggs, condensed milk, whole milk, vanilla extract, and salt until well mixed.
Coat bread slices on both sides in the egg mixture, and place coated bread in a shallow pan or pie plate, add any remaining egg mixture to it. Cover with press and seal wrap or foil and place in the refrigerator to soften overnight.
Mix together sugar, cocoa and cinnamon in a small shallow bowl big enough to hold one slice bread.
Heat oil in a deep skillet to about 2-inches until it reaches 330F (use a candy thermometer to check).
Lift the bread from the egg mixture until it stops dripping, and pan fry the pieces in the skillet on both sides until golden and crispy. Keep the oil hot while frying (check temp), raising the heat if needed.
As the pieces are removed from the skillet, drain on paper towels then dredge in the spicy sugar mixture.